“If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.”
Some quotes just stick with you, and this one, from Ernest Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast has stuck with me in the years since I read this work, especially in the time when I was figuring out how to make my desire to live in Europe a reality.
Hemingway moved to Paris in 1921 at the age of 22 with his first wife Elizabeth Hadley Richardson. He stayed in Paris until 1928. It was in Paris where Hemingway honed his craft and published his first two books, including The Sun Also Rises.
While here Hemingway fell in with a circle of ex-patriot writers that included Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound and F Scott Fitzgerald. A Moveable Feast is a memoir of his time in the city and interactions with fellow writers.
Hemingway and his compatriots spent much time in bars and cafes drinking, debating, writing and drinking some more. I focused my pilgrimage to Hemingway’s haunts in Montparnasse, the neighborhood home to the jazz age writers’ social and drinking activities.At the crossroads of Boulevard du Montparnasse and Rue Delambre are four cafes frequented by these writers: Le Dôme, La Coupole, Le Rotonde and Le Select.
Le Dôme Cafe
I chose to have a drink at Le Dôme, which is a fine café decorated with Tiffany lamps and vintage photographs of the great minds who dined there. Had I done more research ahead of time I would have had a drink at Le Select instead as it is featured in a scene in The Sun Also Rises.
Closerie des Lilas
Down the street is Closerie des Lilas, the café where Hemingway wrote The Sun Also Rises and F Scott Fitzgerald read Hemingway The Great Gatsby. This is my all time favorite book and I was awestruck to be in the place where one of my favorite writers shared my favorite book with another of my favorite writers.
According to the hostess, Hemingway always sat at the bar (seems a rather uncomfortable place to write if you ask me), and so the area where he sat is now marked with a plaque.
I sat at the stool and ordered another glass of wine, pondering how amazing it must have been to be immersed in such a circle of brilliant writers.
74 Rue Cardinal Lemoine
I ended my short tour of Hemingway’s haunts by walking from Closesie des Lilas to Hemingway’s old apartment building at 74 Rue Cardinal Lemoine. The building is understated, much like his writing style. Quite fitting.